at Le Phaeton, Culoz, France, October 13/14, 2023

BARABBAS (live at New Blood Fest, October 14, 2023, Culoz France)
Photo: Séverine Peraldino

The festival season never seems to be quite over. Middle of October, while it’s finally getting cold in the mountains near Chambéry in France, Culoz is hosting the third edition of the New Blood Fest: dedicated to Heavy Metal and extreme music, this two-day local fest had a lineup built just to please about anyone on the first day and a pick at the most extreme bands from local scene on the second day.

Day 1.

Country Girls

Despite a rather small turnout Bad Tripes, from Marseille, started the hostilities with their wacky and outrageous Punk Metal. Lots of spikes and leather, not a lot of clothes, a dildo-microphone, French lyrics and electrocuted energy: Bad Tripes is a vulgar and oh-so-refreshing display of women’s power in Metal! Next up on the stage, with another powerful frontwoman was The Prize. Fans of Ayreon, you’ve heard her on several albums and live projects with Arjen Lucassen and on Nightmare’s Red Sun. The Prize is finally the project where she has all the creative room she needs. From the epic riffs and Hard Rock energy of “Funhouse Mirror” and “Blood Red Ink” to the jazzy vibes of “Cirkus,” the band offered what felt like a too-short immersion in their first album.

En français s’il vous plaît !

If you spent your summer in France and managed to miss Malemort on the festival stages, then shame on you! As usual, the Messieurs of Malemort delivered an excellent show centred on their two last albums Ball Trap and Château Chimère. The spooky instrumental “Décembre” was also a nice surprise! Just to highlight the best moments: “Mon Nom” and “Sémaphores” are particularly efficient onstage.

In the ‘80s Mohamed “Moho” Chemlackh and Yves “Vivi” Brusco were part of Trust, one of the most influential French Metal Bands. Trust continued without them, not always for the best. So in 2022, the two partners in crime created their own project MohoVivi and released the album Kommando full of the Hard N’ Heavy rage that their former bandmates have lost over the years. They played a mix of their recent compositions and old Trust classics like the very topical “Toujours pas une thune” (Still have no cash), and “Police Milice.” They also paid tribute to Malcolm Young with the song “Malcolm” like an echo to Trust’s “Ton Dernier Acte” dedicated to Bon Scott. A very good lesson in Rock N’ Roll, proving once more, that you need not always look on the biggest stage to find better music and rendition.

Serious matters starting here…

After these Heavy and Hard Rock distractions, the Newblood Fest (programmation by Arno Strobbl, an inevitable figure of the French Metal Scene) took a turn towards more extreme musical countries. Starting with Dropdead Chaos, the headline of this first day. Growls and screams replaced the clean vocals. This project was created during the COVID-19 crisis to support healthcare workers and gather members of France’s biggest Metal/Extreme Music scenes. Thus, it has the energy of Black Bomb A, the melodies and catchy choruses of Sidilarsen and Flayed.

Day 2.

The Red and The Black

1 pm is a perfectly reasonable time to listen to the Technical Death Metal of South Of Hell from Chambéry. They have the best of powerful grizzly growl allied with meandering saturated riffs and still some epic soli. Their drummer seemed very young (about 15) but delivered a precise and compelling performance. For those who enjoy the more bestial forms of Metal, here’s something to check out. From Death Metal, the lineup crossed easily to Black Metal. The genre got the spotlight on this day. First with Orob and their Progressive/Atmospheric Black Metal, an underestimated genre for its relaxing values. Orob, like Alcest, is very soothing in the alternation between growls and clean singing (that was sometimes just a bit out of tune, but which can be forgiven). For Alcest fans, you can check out the album “Aube Noir.” Sunbeam Overdrive acted as a last-minute replacement, with their warm vintage vibe Southern Metal. This was to be the last melodic break of the afternoon before a musical descent into Dante’s Inferno.

Bring Out Your Dead!

Dressed in rags of black lace, plague masks and what seemed decomposing skins (difficult to say in the constant flashing lights). Deathcode Society successfully created an atmosphere of unease and seeping madness, like breathing in the fumes of a cesspool of human cruelty, darkness and unspoken evil. All of this is backed up by excellent musicianship. As often, the best drummers are found in Black Metal bands, both in terms of complexity of rhythmic patterns and sheer ability to smash your brain into itsy bitsy pieces.

It was not yet time to venture out of the cemeteries, with Barrabas’ Doom. Their black mass gathered a slightly more reassuring audience for the festival. However, it could still not be described as anything else than intimate. While all languages have different sonorities and you’re used to your English in Metal, Barrabas like Malemort defends another idea. For them, the mastery of their own tongue is always better than derivative and repetitive English lyrics, no matter how outlandish they seem to the novice ear. So amateurs of Doom, don’t miss out on “La Mort Appelle Tous Les Vivants” just because it’s in French!

F****** Death Metal!

All pretence of melodies or catchiness was then dropped for the following bands. Mortuary are the veterans of the genre in France with 35 years of careers and still counting with a brand new album. It was time to mosh around and to initiate the younger generation. What’s great about small festivals, there’s plenty of room to mosh around! Brutality increased again with Leng Tche and their well…Brutal Death Metal. Melodies came back a little with the Italians from Sadist and their multitasking guitarist, doubling as keyboard player. All the bands benefited from an excellent sound and gave their all, despite the small audience.

We Are Strong And We Are Legion!

It has been quite a few years since Samael had played in these parts of France. The neighbours from Switzerland were awaited like the proverbial dark messiah on the New Blood Fest Stage. Since its creation in 1987, Samael has covered a vast expanse of Extreme music. From the Black Metal of their beginning to the industrial experimentations, they chose a setlist to reflect their evolution, but mostly their current form. A lot of catchy choruses and beats, aggressive tunes and less progressive diversions. The audience got to sing along on the eponym track “Samael” and on the modern classic “Slavocracy.” Despite being hallowed a generous time on a festival stage, it was too soon when they ended their set with a supercharged version of “Black Supremacy” thus ending a rich and refreshing festival.

To finish this review, just a few words you’ve heard before, but one more time cannot hurt: Get out of your house whenever you can and support live and local music!


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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